Do Not Tolerate False Teaching

Posted: November 19, 2012 in J C Ryle

Do Not Tolerate False Teaching.

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One of the fads of 1970s America was the motorcycle jump. This trend reached its high (and low) point on September 8, 1974. Thousands of spectators gathered around the Snake River Canyon in Idaho to see if Evel Knievel could jump across the chasm in a specially designed “sky cycle.” In the end, however, it was unsuccessful. Knievel made it only part of the way across the gulf before his parachute deployed and he dropped to the canyon floor below. Some spectators asked, “How far across the canyon did he get?” But that wasn’t the point. He didn’t make it all the way across, so he fell short of his goal.

This scene is a good illustration of sin. The Bible talks about sin in Romans 3:23, where Paul declared, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one is capable of bridging the gap between God and ourselves by our own efforts, but the Savior came to do just that on our behalf. Christ perfectly fulfilled God’s standards, then gave His life on the cross to pay for our failure and wrongdoing. Where we could only fall short, Christ’s work, offered in love, accomplished all that was needed.

Our response is to trust Him and receive this matchless gift of salvation.

There is no other name on earth By whom salvation’s given Save Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, God’s precious gift from heaven. —Stairs
The cross of Christ bridges the gap we could never cross on our own.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.

One of my all-time favorite movies in Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as Phil Connors, a self-centered weatherman who ends up trapped in a time warp. He is stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for Groundhog Day, the same Groundhog Day over and over and over again. After satisfying his hedonistic pleasures, Phil begins to grow into a person committed to helping others. For example, from experience, he knows that at precisely 11:05 a.m., a boy will fall out of a tree onto the sidewalk. So Phil makes sure to be there at exactly the right moment to catch the boy, saving him from serious injury. But, every single time, the boy runs away without even acknowledging Phil. In one scene, Phil laments, “That’s right. Never thank you, not once. You never say thank you.”

Things like this happen all the time, not just in the movies. This should not surprise us. In fact, the Apostle Paul informs us that ingratitude is to be expected in “the last days,” that is, in the days between the ascension of Christ and his return. People will act in all sorts of terrible ways and will be, among other deplorable things, “ungrateful” (2 Tim. 3:2).

What is the cost of ingratitude? To be sure, one cost accrues to the person who deserves thanks. In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors is deprived of the recognition and gladness he should receive from the boy he saved. When we fail to thank God, God loses out on the recognition that he rightly deserves. So, ingratitude wrongs the one who should have received thanks.

But there is another penalty that is paid when we are ungrateful. We lose the opportunity to delight in the blessings of our lives. We deny ourselves the joy that comes to us when we give others the joy that comes from our thanks. Ingratitude deprives the one who should offer thanks of a deeper, richer, fuller experience of life’s goodness.

So, ingratitude hurts the one who should receive thanks and the one who should give it. Not surprisingly, therefore, it also fails to nourish the relationship between the two parties. Whereas, a word of thanks can build intimacy and trust; thanks neglected creates distance and guardedness.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you experienced some of the costs of ingratitude? Are there times you forget to thank the Lord? Are there people in your life whom you need to thank, for their sake, for your sake, and for the sake of your relationship? When and how will you thank these people?

PRAYER: Gracious God, I don’t want to be one of those people described in 2 Timothy 3. I don’t want to be ungrateful. Yet, I know there are times when I fail to thank you for your blessings. There are also times I forget to thank others. I can get so busy, so focused, that I just don’t stop to say a simple “Thank you.”

Forgive me, Lord, for my ingratitude. Tenderize my heart, so that I might feel grateful when I am the recipient of goodness. Remind me, Lord, to thank you and to thank others…starting right now. Amen.

 

P.S. from Mark – Beginning with this coming Sunday, December 2, we will enter the season of Advent. This time of year helps us prepare for a richer experience of Christmas as we get in touch with just how much we need a Savior. I have been privileged to work with my colleagues in Laity Lodge Youth Camp and Laity Lodge Family Camp on the production of an Advent Family Devotional Guide. This guide will help you, your family, and your friends deepen your experience of God during Advent. We are giving away a PDF copy of this guide. Click here to download the 2012 Advent Devotional.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/cost-ingratitude


Experiencing God Despite the Distractions

In the normal course of things a certain number of distractions are bound to come to each one of us; but if we learn to be inwardly still these can be rendered relatively harmless. It would not be hard to compile a long list of names of Christians who carried upon their shoulders the burden of state or the responsibilities of business and yet managed to live in great inward peace with the face of the Lord in full view. They have left us a precious legacy in the form of letters, journals, hymns and devotional books that witness to the ability of Christ to calm the troubled waters of the soul as He once calmed the waves on the Sea of Galilee. And today as always those who listen can hear His still, small voice above the earthquake and the whirlwind.

While the grace of God will enable us to overcome inevitable distractions, we dare not presume upon God’s aid and throw ourselves open to unnecessary ones. The roving imagination, an inquisitive interest in other people’s business, preoccupation with external affairs beyond what is absolutely necessary: these are certain to lead us into serious trouble sooner or later. The heart is like a garden and must be kept free from weeds and insects. To expect the fruits and flowers of Paradise to grow in an untended heart is to misunderstand completely the processes of grace and the ways of God with men. Only grief and disappointment can result from continued violation of the divine principles that underlie the spiritual life.

http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=738


“Make everything according to the pattern I have shown you.”                       Ex 25:40 NLT

The second element that marked the building of the Old Testament tabernacle was excellence. God condemns perfectionism because it stifles our creativity and robs us of all sense of progress. And Jesus condemned those who gave to impress others. “When you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward” (Mt 6:2 NKJV). But if you think this means you can just offer God anything you feel like, you’re sorely mistaken. When it comes to serving, God wants you to aspire to excellence. God said to Moses: “And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze…And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (Ex 25:3-9 NKJV). Why did God ask for gold? Because He won’t accept anything sloppy or second-rate. Guess where Jesus sat when He went to church? Beside the treasury, watching people give. Luke records: “Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has’” (Lk 21:2-4 NLT). So, give God your best!

http://theencouragingword.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/thoughts-on-the-tabernacle-2/


Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take muc h interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings. There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to “avoid foolish questions.”

http://www.crosswalkmail.com/ShareArticle.do?perform=view&articleID=ortwlmmqr&siteID=ivgnhzydngnycdfbkqtptyzcvkkcgmythhf&recipID=526889780


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Damon Vix didn’t have to go to court to push Christmas out of the city of Santa Monica. He just joined the festivities.

The atheist’s anti-God message alongside a life-sized nativity display in a park overlooking the beach ignited a debate that burned brighter than any Christmas candle.

Santa Monica officials snuffed the city’s holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus’ birth, while the city aims to eject the case.

“It’s a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested,” said Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee that is suing.

Missing from the courtroom drama will be Vix and his fellow atheists, who are not parties to the case. Their role outside court highlights a tactical shift as atheists evolve into a vocal minority eager to get their non-beliefs into the public square as never before.

National atheist groups earlier this year took out full-page newspaper ads and hundreds of TV spots in response to the Catholic bishops’ activism around women’s health care issues and are gearing up to battle for their own space alongside public Christmas displays in small towns across America this season.

“In recent years, the tactic of many in the atheist community has been, if you can’t beat them, join them,” said Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and director of the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Education Project in Washington. “If these church groups insist that these public spaces are going to be dominated by a Christian message, we’ll just get in the game — and that changes everything.”

In the past, atheists primarily fought to uphold the separation of church and state through the courts. The change underscores the conviction held by many nonbelievers that their views are gaining a foothold, especially among young adults.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last month that found 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years. Atheists took heart from the report, although Pew researchers stressed that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in God but had no ties with organized religion and people who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious.”

“We’re at the bottom of the totem pole socially, but we have muscle and we’re flexing it,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. “Ignore our numbers at your peril.”

The trouble in Santa Monica began three years ago, when Vix applied for and was granted a booth in Palisades Park alongside the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, from Mary’s visit from the Angel Gabriel to the traditional crèche.

Vix hung a simple sign that quoted Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies.” The other side read “Happy Solstice.” He repeated the display the following year but then upped the stakes significantly.

In 2011, Vix recruited 10 others to inundate the city with applications for tongue-in-cheek displays such as a homage to the “Pastafarian religion,” which would include an artistic representation of the great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The secular coalition won 18 of 21 spaces. The two others went to the traditional Christmas displays and one to a Hanukkah display.

The atheists used half their spaces, displaying signs such as one that showed pictures of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil and said: “37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?”

Most of the signs were vandalized and in the ensuing uproar, the city effectively ended a tradition that began in 1953 and earned Santa Monica one of its nicknames, the City of the Christmas Story.

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee argues in its lawsuit that atheists have the right to protest, but that freedom doesn’t trump the Christians’ right to free speech.

“If they want to hold an opposing viewpoint about the celebration of Christmas, they’re free to do that — but they can’t interfere with our right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum,” said William Becker, attorney for the committee. “Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive.”

The city doesn’t prohibit churches from caroling in the park, handing out literature or even staging a play about the birth of Jesus and churches can always set up a nativity on private land, Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said in an email.

The decision to ban the displays also saves the city, which had administered the cumbersome lottery process used to award booths, both time and money while preserving the park’s aesthetics, she said.

For his part, Vix is surprised — and slightly amused — at the legal battle spawned by his solitary act but doesn’t plan anything further.

“That was such a unique and blatant example of the violation of the First Amendment that I felt I had to act,” said the 44-year-old set builder. “If I had another goal, it would be to remove the `under God’ phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance — but that’s a little too big for me to take on for right now.”

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and religion, but also states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That has been interpreted by courts as providing for separation of church and state, barring government bodies from promoting, endorsing or funding religion or religious institutions.

http://www.centurylink.net/news/read.php?rip_id=%3CDA2KIIUG0%40news.ap.org%3E&ps=1011&page=1